Charlyne Cares On The Go
Today's message is from Bob who was a prodigal who returned home and was remarried to me for an additional 23 years before the Lord took him home to Heaven. Bob wrote 19 books from the prodigal's perspective for more than two decades after our divorce and remarriage. - Charlyne
Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him. Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing. Psalm 34:5-10
It is grand to be a grandparent. If Charlyne and I had known grandkids were so much fun, we would have had them first! Seriously, we are blessed to have all seven of our grandchildren living within five miles of us. It is not unusual to have the majority of them in and out of our home on a single day. It is also a real blessing to be involved in the spiritual lives of our grandchildren. They each delight in trips in Grandma's van to the Christian bookstore, listening on the way to Charlyne's kids CDs.
I do not want to paint the picture that our grandkids are perfect, for they are not, (well, maybe some are, depending on which set of parents you ask). All seven know that while at Grandma's and Grandpa's house, they must obey the rules or be corrected. One child, in particular, is extremely sensitive, and even the slightest rebuke brings a dropped bottom lip and a few big tears. Each time that happens, I can recall being in my Grandma's presence and doing something out of line. Her five-word rebuke would be, "Bobby Steinkamp, shame on you." Even if her scolding might have been a bit harsh, each time I heard those words I regretted having disappointed my Grandma.
What is shame? The basic dictionary definition is, "a painful emotion aroused by recognition that one has failed to act, behave, or think in accordance with the standards which one accepts as good." Ashamed is simply the act of feeling shame.
The illustration might be oversimplification, but our Lord God has a house full of prodigal children, who, much like our grandkids, each react to God's correction in different ways. One may respond to the softest rebuke, while another has hardened their spirit against the same command.
A verse from Jeremiah 15 describes what we could call the "strong- willed prodigal":
"Are they ashamed of their loathsome conduct? No, they have no shame at all; they do not even know how to blush. So they will fall among the fallen; they will be brought down when I punish them," says the Lord. Jeremiah 6:15
Please note this passage does not say that God is wringing His hands in frustration over the antics of wayward mates, as you might be doing today. I can assure you from experience that God's correction to His disobedient child is progressive, until -
"O my God, I am too ashamed and disgraced to lift up my face to you, my God, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens." Ezra 9:6
Right now your mate may be like the grandchild playing with Grandma's special keepsakes. Our Father is calling to them, "Don't do that;" "Stop;" "That's enough;" "You will be punished if you don't stop." Acting like a child, the prodigal pretends he or she does not hear what God is saying, even though every word is registering. Be it child or prodigal, they will cease doing what is wrong when the consequences outweigh the pleasures. At that point, there comes shame.
My disgrace is before me all day long, and my face is covered with shame. Psalm 44:15
Now I am happy, not because you were made sorry, but because your sorrow led you to repentance. For you became sorrowful as God intended and so were not harmed in any way by us. Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. 2 Corinthians 7:9-10
Do you get it? Shame is the forerunner of repentance, and repentance is then followed by marriage restoration. Not until your spouse is ashamed of what they are doing, and turn from it (repentance) is there hope for true restoration of your marriage on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.
Let's return to the Steinkamp living room and the grandchild handling the keepsake. They hear the correction, and they stop, but keep on eying the forbidden item, thinking, "I stopped because I knew you were serious, but once you are out of the room, it's mine again!" Many of our prodigal spouses hear the voice of God and come home, but they keep their eye on the other person. A few days or weeks later, we hear they have left for the far country again.
What happened? They attempted to deal with their shame without repentance. God never leaves the room. He will take your prodigal once again around the mountain, until their shame leads to genuine repentance.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9
If you are living 100% sold out to the Lord, and your mate makes a false start toward home, do not consider for a second that it is your fault. However, if you are dabbling with standing, not spending time in the Word, posting prayer requests on the Internet and calling it praying, that is another issue.
After your mate comes home, they can be forgiven by God for everything (and hopefully by you) as soon as they come in the door, turning away from that other person 100% and repent. Their slate is clean in God's sight, but they will still have the shame over what they have done. Sin can be dealt with instantly, but overcoming the shame, while not impossible, does take time.
As an aside, there is one thing you can do to help your returned spouse overcome the shame. Do not press for details. You are not writing a news story, so who/what/when/where/how is not needed. When the time is right, the wounds have healed, and your spouse is walking with the Lord, the one you love may be led to share details, but it must be at their time, and not yours.
During the twenty plus years since our remarriage, Charlyne has by now heard all the details, or so I thought. A few weeks ago, driving together, something came up and I commented about what was, at the time, a funny incident with another person. Charlyne said, "I never knew that." We both had a laugh over the incident, which involved God moving on this prodigal's life. (I cannot recall what the incident was and asked Charlyne, to perhaps share it here. She cannot remember either. That is exactly the forgiveness we desire for you and your spouse.)
When we hear of a returned prodigal coming home on Tuesday and starting to minister on Thursday, we have to ask if there was heart-felt repentance. If so, where is the shame? It took me almost three years to even be able to write about what had happened, and much longer before I could speak on the subject. This is why we strongly urge standers not to force their returned spouse to attend stander's groups and to testify until the Holy Spirit has them ready to do so.
One major factor in your mate's ability to deal with the shame after they come home depends on what you will do today. The Holy Spirit does not need your help in bringing shame to repentance upon an absent spouse. One of Charlyne's common sayings is, "Zip the lips." The Lord will get word to people who need to know details about your marriage, without your help. My way home was made easy by Charlyne's refusal to share bad reports with everyone. She and I are absolutely amazed at some of the details we see standers sharing with the world on the Internet.
What would happen if your prodigal happened to be using a search word that brought them to your posted report of, "He said...then we...I told her...she uses drugs...we decided to...the other man said..." These are not praise or prayer reports. They are gossip. The person shamed is the one who shared them, not an absent spouse. Yes, we know it is a release to unload these thoughts, but how about sending them in a personal email to us, or to your prayer partner, not to everyone in your address book? If you are serious about seeking marriage restoration, don't share the garbage with the world. If you enjoy doing this, you may be doing it for a long while. Godly shame is enough for a prodigal to deal with, without shame generated by a misdirected stander.
If you are seriously standing with our Lord Jesus Christ for marriage restoration, spending time in His presence, and doing everything His way, you are insulated from shame, regardless of what your spouse is doing, regardless of the circumstances you are going through. Your obligation is to keep repentance on the forefront of your life.
In you I trust, O my God. Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me. No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame, but they will be put to shame who are treacherous without excuse. Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths; guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:2-5
You just keep standing and praying and watch what God can do. I have to run - think I hear a grandkid in the living room getting into something they shouldn't!
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